When I first started studying astrology I encountered the idea that we are here to evolve our souls. This is something I hadn't given much consideration to. But if one's primary job here on earth is to grow one's soul, the next obvious question is, "How does one do that?" I think initially I thought that the path was through religious study. Say becoming a Buddhist. But the more I live the more I believe that the path to soul expansion and wisdom is through loss. And it doesn't have to be capital L LOSS, but the every day losses we all encounter as well as the big lifetime losses.
I recently read a book about a minister who lost his mother, his wife and his four year old daughter in one horrible night. He was involved in a head on car crash and sat and watched all three of them leave this world. The grief he was plunged into is unfathomable to most of us. But garden variety loss is a common part of life on earth, and plenty painful, One doesn't need to look to the most dramatic example, the loss from a divorce, or having a child that lies outside the 'normal' range, or caring for an aging parent are examples of pain that can call forth a persons mettle.
The minister in the book goes on to explain that he sees the soul as a balloon. Experiencing grief is what makes your soul expand. It is not a choice to grow in that way but rather it is life calling to you, asking more than you want to give. But as you work your way thru that pain, what you expect or even want from reality changes. This is the gift of grief. Your balloon is full, much more full than before and the sorrow is eventually replaced with gratitude for much smaller things, you are able to find joy and grace in the simple events of life that you once overlooked. Your ability to feel compassion for others is expanded and slowly your soul is expanded and evolves.